The uncertainty of the last 18 months has brought about change after change to our daily habits.
One in particular that has taken centre stage the last few months – be that on your scroll through Instagram wondering why on earth everyone has decided to go to Devon for the sunset, or on your own browsing of Airbnb and the stark discovery that England is quite literally fully booked.
The intensity of 3 national lockdowns has got us all craving for that sea breeze tousling through our hair, with the faint sound of a seagull carving out its next victim in the form of fried-food theft.
This, in turn, has undeniably changed our perception of how we – as a collective public – use and value our coastal regions. The appetite for a getaway within the walls of our nation has rarely been more in demand and with a recent study finding that “73% of Brits Likely to Travel within the UK after Coronavirus”, it is clear this trend may be here to stay a little longer than first expected, and that perhaps we can get more out of a week not-away than we first thought.
While the leisure sector unsurprisingly took a hit last year, interest in idyllically placed facilities, parks, and public areas to holiday in remains high. Could this rise of staycation popularity provide a longer-term strategy of opportunity for Developers and Investors inland, changing the face of the future of Town Planning inquiries?
What does this mean for Planning and Development in these regional coastal and rural areas?
I spoke to Martin Taylor, Senior Director of Planning at Avison Young, who specialises in the Leisure sector and is also based on the highly sought-after South Coast – to get his thoughts on the future of Planning in these popular spots.
Martin gave insight into how areas in the UK, traditionally associated with leisure, have been impacted by the change in behaviour of UK holidaymakers.
He gave that the demand for caravans coming from camping sites has grown exponentially this summer, with the backlog for orders from manufacturers surpassing 18 months. These sites are over-ordering caravan stock before gaining the correct planning permission to have them on their sites, putting high pressure on Planners in these areas to turn these around in a timely manner.
The types of orders are not restricted to the traditional bright white tin holiday home you’d expect, but also include wood-clad lodges and luxury glamping facilities. Perhaps evidence that in the longer term, people are more likely to want to put their hand a little deeper into their pockets to enjoy a luxury break not-abroad.
Martin also referenced the monumental domination of AirBnb in the staycation market and noted the increase in complaints in some coastal areas to local governments that residents who rely on rented accommodation in these areas are finding it increasingly difficult to secure long term accommodation as some landlords, in it for a quick buck, are converting empty properties into AirBnb guesthouses with the seduction of a shorter-term increase in profit.
In tangent to this, there are also rising concerns that second homes, an issue already prevalent in sought-after coastal areas, will also be on the rise for the wealthy investing in summer property. With some coastal areas in parts of Devon or Cornwall seeing an 80% decrease in residents out-of-season, these areas are prone to higher rates of unemployment, a loss of a sense of community undersubscribed schools, and lower police presence.
Martin adds that there has been an increased conversation for a push on the government to put this to Town Planning to resolve, with suggestions of how to limit second homes to prevent these areas becoming economically damaged from the increased demand from the ‘Staycation Effect’.
Interestingly, Martin also gave an insight into the potential for the ever more prevalent realities of global warming, and record-breaking temperatures across southern Europe, and the more traditional holiday-making destinations for Brits, to have a longer-term impact on Planning and Development in the UK. Investment for development in the leisure and tourism sector in the UK may well increase in the longer term so Brits can holiday in more bearable temperatures…albeit with a much higher chance of rain!
Perhaps the last 18 months is a period representative of a ‘needs must’ kind of attitude, or maybe it is a changing tide in our recreational habits that will decorate our summer holidays for years to come.
The vast sandy beaches, coastal walks, and picture-perfect sunsets have always made seaside towns a desirable spot for a sunny bank holiday’s jaunt, but the projections for these trends to continue into the future suggest the future of Town Planning and Development in these regions will be altered from the status quo to accommodate for the influx in tourism across the board.
Additionally, with flexible working patterns becoming the norm, and the kitchen table becoming a frequent flyer of our weekly 9-5 routine, employees are often willing to commute a little further afield to accommodate for the lessened time in the office, with evidence suggesting there could also be a shift in demand in these coastal regions, from both a tourism perspective and a longer-term residential perspective.
Watch this space…